The NC500

One of the most exciting things about motorhome rental is having freedom like no other. Camp up, wake up, explore and then do it all again the next day in a totally different place! Hiring a motorhome is like buying freedom you never knew existed!

Last week, our Autotrail T715 motorhome returned home to Wakefield from seeing the most incredible sights of Scotland’s exquisite views of the NC500 and beyond.

We have put together our Top Tips if you’re thinking about hiring and exploring the NC500 with us!

Top tips for driving the North Coast 500 in a Code 11 Motorhome:

1. Plan your route

Now that the NC500 is an official route, there are plenty of books, guides and maps that you can indulge in when you’re in the planning phase.  It’s tempting to ‘wing it’ and just head up to Scotland and see how you go, but having a vague plan and some ideas about where you want to go is well worth the effort, or you could spend a whole week in one spot and not see the best parts.

It’s also really important to know that a lot of the roads, once you get in to the northwest, are single-track roads or might be unsuitable for your vehicle.  For example, the road to Applecross, which is known as Bealach na Ba, is an extremely windy and steep road.  It’s not suitable for some vehicles and if you have an old van you might feel that it’s probably not worth the risk.

One heavily recommended book is The North Coast 500 guide book – it is packed with info, maps and ideas of things to do.

2. Stock up on supplies

As you’re probably aware, the north coast of Scotland is pretty remote and villages are widely spaced out between each other.  What this means as a camper van or motorhome traveller is that you need to bear in mind the locations of a few things: food, fuel and water.

Stock up on some staples in the big towns such as Inverness, Thurso, Ullapool or Fort William, depending on your route.

There will be small shops in the villages, cafes and restaurants and of course it’s great to give them your custom when you can, but sometimes the opening times aren’t always on your side.

Fuel should be bought whenever you see a fuel station.

Water can be bought in bulk at a supermarket, but if you run low you might be able to find a campsite that you can fill up at or check for taps at petrol stations.

3. Wild camp if you can

One of the great things about touring Scotland in a motorhome is the fact that you are able to wild camp.  Scotland is fantastic for this and you’ll see many other people settling in for the night in laybys or car parks.  When you’re in the very remote areas of Scotland, there may not be so many campsites, so knowing that you can pull over where you like to is great.

Some tips if you’d like to wild camp with your motorhome on the NC500:

  1. Only camp where it is safe to do so
  2. Don’t block access
  3. Don’t camp in passing places on a single track road
  4. Leave the place as you found it – no dumping litter or toilet waste

These may seem obvious, but it’s good to point them out, especially now with lots of novice campers taking to the road – lots of places in Scotland have taken to putting up ‘no overnight’ signs in car parks and it would be a shame for the NC500 areas to feel the need to curb wild camping up there.

The North Coast 500 is becoming more popular and you might find it difficult to secure a wild camping spot so always have a campsite in mind. 


4. Campsites are great

As well as access to laundry and the ability to empty your toilet being added bonuses, some sites are in some awesome places with incredible, picturesque views.

We are members of The Camping and Caravanning Club, so our company discount becomes your discount. If you are planning to book through us for the NC500, or any other route in the UK, let us know and we will provide our discount code. Take a look here:

5. Pack plenty of spare clothes

Scotland is known for it’s cold, wet and windy weather, and even if you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll probably find that you’ll get caught in one of these 3 weather conditions and sometimes you’ll experience all 3 in one day, so it’s a great idea to make sure you have plenty of spare clothes because it can be so unpredictable.

6.  Don’t be afraid to go off route

There is so much to see in the Highlands of Scotland that it would be a shame to relegate yourself to just exploring what’s on the official NC500.

If you did this, you might miss the Isle of Skye, the outer Hebrides or even the road to the isles, which travels to Mallaig and passes by the Glenfinnen viaduct. Yes, the one from Harry Potter!

There’s also the whisky trail in Speyside to enjoy too.  This goes back to tip number one – try plan and research before going there and you’ll find some great things to do that perhaps aren’t on the route, but aren’t so far away either.

7.  Take your time

It’s tempting to try and storm through the route, clocking up the miles and checking off each stop. Slow down, enjoy the peace and quiet of the area and perhaps chat to the locals.  You’ll get a much more rewarding trip.

8.  Clean up after yourself

Finally, always clean up after yourself. Campervan and motorhome owners have sometimes given themselves a bad reputation by leaving rubbish around, driving off with their waste water taps open and sometimes even going to the toilet outside and leaving toilet paper behind.

Often, this is from inexperienced campers, but not always – if you’re unsure how to use the motorhome, book in to a campsite for the first night or two while you figure things out.  You’ll always find some willing helpers when there if you get stuck.

Scotland is very welcoming to wild campers and motorhomes and it would be a shame for that to change.  Think about the locals, be discreet while camping and leave no trace of you every being there.